March is Brain Injury Awareness Month!
The Brain Injury Assocation of America and local chapters conduct an awareness campaign annually to promote support and understanding of traumatic brain injury (TBI). This year the theme for Brain Injury Awareness Month is “NOT ALONE”.
Raising Awareness About Traumatic Brain Injury
Many people are unaware of the impact of traumatic brain injury. The goal of the awareness campaign is to shine a spotlight on research, treatment and support that is available for the more than 2.5 million children and adults who sustain traumatic brain injuries in the U.S. each year.
Increased awareness helps survivors of brain injury know that they are not alone on their journey.
Facts about Brain Injury (From the CDC)
- TBI contributes to over 50,000 deaths in the US each year.
- Annually, 280,000 people are hospitalized with a TBI diagnosis in the US.
- The annual estimated cost of emergency room visits, hospitalizations and deaths as a result of a TBI in the US exceeds $82 billion.
- Over 33,500 North Carolinians are injured each year, not including veterans (who are counted through other surveillance data mechanisms).
- Over 200,000 North Carolinians are living in the community disabled as a result of a TBI.
So, what can you do to help raise awareness?
The following are 5 simple suggestions.
#1 – Support the Brain Injury Association of NC.
#2 – Advocate for more funding for services for persons with brain injury.
#3 – Talk with legislators about the importance of supporting this underfunded population.
#4 – Focus on safety to prevent brain injury.
#5 – Wear a helmet.
ALWAYS wear a helmet.
Make sure you and your children wear helmets when you:
- Ride anything that moves (ex: bicycles, motorcycles, snowmobiles, scooters, etc.)
- Play a sport that requires physical contact or high risk of injury (ex: football, ice hockey or boxing)
- Horseback riding, skiing or snowboarding
- Participate in outdoor activities that involve heights (ex: zip line, rock climb, bungee jump, hang glide, etc.)
ALWAYS wear a seatbelt.
- Wear a seat belt each and every time.
- Make sure children are appropriately secure in the back seat of the car, away from airbags.
- Be sure that they are seated in the appropriate seat for their size and weight (according to state laws).
- Never drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications.
Avoid Brain Injuries by Preventing Falls
Falls are one of the leading causes of head injury – especially in older adults. You can prevent falls and avoid head injury by:
- Making sure you have adequate lighting throughout your home
- Remove tripping hazards such as loose rugs and clutter
- Using nonslip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors as well as installing grab bars in the shower
Your physical fitness matters.
Today, there are more reasons than one to stay in shape. Doing so has tremendous health benefits and can help you avoid unnecessary accidents both inside and outside of your home. Start by maintaining good lower body strength.
Regular exercise can also help you improve your balance, which can help you avoid potentially dangerous slips, trips, and falls. Just be sure to speak with your doctor first to come up with an exercise plan that makes sense.
Child-Proofing Your Home
Brain injuries don’t just affect older adults; they also affect small children and infants. Keep children safer in your home by:
- Always making sure that children are supervised by a responsible adult – especially around water
- Install safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs
- Use window guards at open windows
Learn More About Brain Injuries
To learn more about brain injuries, resources, or ways to volunteer or advocate, visit the Brain Injury Association of NC website, or visit the Brain Injury Association of America website. Learn more about the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program at WakeMed and the various brain injury support groups and services we provide.
About Laurie R. Leach, PhD, ABN
Dr. Leach joined WakeMed Neuropsychology in 1995. She is board certified by the American Board of Professional Neuropsychology and a Fellow of the American College of Professional Neuropsychology. Dr. Leach also serves as Program Director of WakeMed’s Brain Injury Rehabilitation System (BIRS). She specializes in adult neuropsychology, with special interests in acquired brain injury, cerebrovascular accident, and dementia.